Date
23 September 2017
Japanese soldiers and paramilitary rescuers hike up the mountainside in search of victims after the deadly eruption of Mt. Ontake. Photo: Reuters
Japanese soldiers and paramilitary rescuers hike up the mountainside in search of victims after the deadly eruption of Mt. Ontake. Photo: Reuters

Hope fades for Japan volcano victims but rescue resumes

Rescuers have resumed the search for victims two days after Japan’s second highest volcano erupted even as hopes are fading that they’re still alive.

They are looking for 31 people believed trapped in the eruption of Mt. Ontake, Japan’s second natural disaster in a month, according to Bloomberg.

Four victims were brought down from the mountainside Sunday after being found unresponsive, the report said, citing public broadcaster NHK.

Rescue work was halted in the afternoon due to the strong smell of sulfur. There has yet been no official confirmation that any of those 31 are dead.

Smoke and ash billowed from Ontake’s craters throughout Sunday as efforts continued to find missing hikers and bring down the injured.

Takeo Kamata, 60, said a hot wind blew and it became difficult to breathe when the 3,067-meter volcano erupted shortly before noon on Sept. 27.

“Little volcanic rocks struck my legs and back. I thought if a big one hits me I’m dead,’ Kamata said in an interview yesterday with NHK. ‘‘I was thinking of my family, saying ’sorry, goodbye’.”

Dozens who had sheltered overnight in mountain lodges descended to trailheads yesterday, some aided by police, fire and military rescue teams, their jackets coated with volcanic ash and their noses and mouths protected by white surgical masks.

Naofumi Miyairi, a spokesman for the Nagano prefectural police, declined to comment on the condition of the victims found unresponsive on the mountainside beyond saying they were all in cardiac arrest and four had been brought down by helicopter.

No additional information on the injured or missing was available as of 9 p.m. local time, Nagano police reported.

Ontake’s eruption came five weeks after torrential rains triggered mudslides that killed at least 42 people in Hiroshima, where rescue workers are still seeking the remains of some missing victims, the report said.

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